I know Kung Fu

That is my favorite line from the Matrix. While learning Kung Fu seems to be just a little bit harder in real life than just plugging into a computer, it is a nice dream to be able to inject knowledge into your brain. The real world is a little different, your muscles tend to burn after a good work out… sometimes during. It has been 2 days since my first Kung Fu lesson and I am still having some trouble moving.

I am out of shape. Even when I have been in better shape I have always been on the heavy side. While I don’t use the “I am big boned” excuse, saying that or even hearing it always makes me think of Dennis Leary’s joke “Dinosaurs were big boned,” I do think that my genetic make up predisposes me to be on the heavy side. Heck, I drink water and get fat. Even if I was in better shape I think this first work out would have still kicked my butt.

Since I moved to Midland I have been looking for a Martial Arts school. I have even written about my strategy and quest. Staying true to what I said, I did not just find the right school, I found the right teacher. I do admit that the prospect of starting all over at other Tae Kwon Do schools was not very appealing either. Out of the Martial Arts I have practiced, Tae Kwon Do was the one I practiced the longest. While my goal was to become a good martial artist and not to get a black belt, the prospect of having to pay for all of the belts I had “earned” all over was not really all that appealing to my budget.

Sifu (Master) already taught me something very important. It is not about how many forms you know, it is not about what belts you have, it is not about how flashy your martial arts are. All of those things are trying to impress other people. The true quest is to impress you. If your Kung Fu is great, you are a duck and not a chicken. Sorry, inside joke.

Since my first conversation with Sifu Chung, I knew I was talking with someone I would greatly respect. One of the most important things for me is to feel like the Sifu is accepting me as a student rather than my money. He told me in our first conversation that he was not a car salesman, he told me the price for the classes and what I would get from them. He was so wise in that comparison, because it is a perfect description of the feeling I had gotten when I had been “shopping around” at others schools.

Car shopping had always been a super stressful experience and it is still something I do not enjoy. There had always been that sales aspect of the transaction where things were a little murky and numbers flew around like daggers. Just like buying the car from our friend Dave, talking to Sifu was not stressful at all. Everything was very clear and on the table. There was no, here is all we offer and then… are you willing to pay this much for it. While you can consider both of them as different sales approaches, I like the up front one a lot better.

I got to try a class for free, no commitment beyond signing the waiver that is required for insurance purposes. From the first moment I stepped into the school I knew I was in a special place. I met Sifu’s son first, he invited me to look around and told me to wait there. He was going to teach class at another school, so he pretty much opened up the school and went on. One by one the other students started showing up and none of them made me feel like I was being judged. Going to a new school can be difficult if the other students are dismissive of you, or if they are arrogant about their level of training. I thankfully felt none of that. Everyone greeted me at different times during my stay at the school and made me feel like I was an old friend. It never felt like people trying to make small talk.

The class was relaxed, friendly and very focused. It was surprising to me because I was not given a series of rules when I walked into the training area like I had in the past with most other arts. Most rules in other schools had been followed but they did not help the class understand the respect they were trying to convey or the focus they were supposed to encourage. Sifu has a wealth of knowledge and he is very willing to share it. He had no problem involving the whole class in an explanation of a single movement in a form. He explained why it was done, its application and purpose to great detail. He was also very humble about his knowledge and explained everything with humor.

I was not able to even finish the warm up. The movements in Kung Fu are completely different than those in Tae Kwon Do. While Hapkido does have some similarity in movement, the stances seem to be a lot wider and my legs do not have the strength to support my upper body for extended periods of time just yet. Also my hips are not doing what they are supposed to, but I think with time and practice they will. I learned the first part of the very first form, it will take me some time to master it but I want to do it really bad. The other excellent part about the school is that you are taught the application of the form along with the form. It really introduces the self-defense aspect of kung fu without breaking the flow. While the art centers on the form, it is like sun and other aspect of martial arts are the planets in a very cohesive solar system.

I miss my old teacher, he is my friend and I have decided that if I ever want to get a black belt in Tae Kwon Do I want to get it from him. In the mean time, I am excited to say that Chung’s School of Praying Mantis is going to be my new Martial arts school. I am also very excited to say that I have found a new teacher, Sifu Henry Chung, son of Grandmaster Chung Ho Yin, which in the end is the most important thing. Neo might be able to learn Kung Fu in seconds, but you know, I truly believe that success is not about the goal; it’s all about the journey.

Midland Comunity Blogs

Midland has blogs now. They are being hosted here for free. It is an interesting idea and somewhat of an experiment but it sounds like something that I might like to participate on some level. I know one Midland blogger, Dan Lacher. I know there are more but those are the two that I visit. Now with the Midland blogs i think there is a great opportunity to create a blogging community. They could link to us via RSS, and also have our content show up there.

In somewhat related news Dan Lacher has agreed to do an interview for my podcast. Something that I find awesome, interesting and just overall cool. I know how eloquent of me. I am looking forward to meeting him and doing an interview, I think it will be my best podcast yet.

*Update*

Dan is calling all Midland bloggers. I hope soon we can have a meetup. So if you are a Midland Michigan Blogger, go and say Hello!

Johari Window

Bea posted this not too long ago and it looked like a good test. I think those around us help shape who we are, so maybe seeing what others think can help me with my quest for self actualization.
The Johari Window was invented by Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingram in the 1950s as a model for mapping personality awareness. By describing yourself from a fixed list of adjectives, then asking your friends and colleagues to describe you from the same list, a grid of overlap and difference can be built up.
So go and participate here. Help me map my personality :)

If you just want to be nosey, then just look at the results.

Internet Tone

No I am not talking about how the internet sounds, or that horrible dial up noise. In my last podcast I mentioned how some people have an internet persona, and well yesterday wired had an article about how easy it is to misinterpret tone in electronic communication. Read the full wired story.

“People often think the tone or emotion in their messages is obvious because they ‘hear’ the tone they intend in their head as they write,” …

…The reason for this is egocentrism, or the difficulty some people have detaching themselves from their own perspective, says Epley. In other words, people aren’t that good at imagining how a message might be understood from another person’s perspective.

Being a part of a couple of online communities has opened an unusual door to the world of missinterpreted messages. I have come to despise some communications online and more importantly “internet personas.”

I used to have a rule for years, if I did not know you IRL (In Real Life) I would not talk to you on the internet. People missrepresent themselves too often and don’t understand that while the internet provides some anonimity, you should still feel accountable for what you claim to be or what you say. Little by little I stopped being so closed minded about it and I actually allowed myself to establish a couple of online friendships. For the most part I like to meet the people IRL before I call them friends, but people like April, Bea, Marchal, Berry, Michael, Pol, Evil_Ataril and others I call friends just through online interaction. While I think meeting them in real life is still the ultimate test, I still find myself capable of calling them friends. I also call friends some of the online buddies that I had the chance to meet in real life like TheGuru and MikeP.
All the people I mentioned there are part of the blogsphere, and while in a way it could be considered a huge internet message board, it is not. Internet message boards have been a difficult thing for me to deal with because of how different people tend to be when you meet them IRL. Maybe it is partly because the boards that I am a member of (gaming and motorcycle) are full of testosterone and who has the fastest machine (both motorcycle displacement and processing power.) All of the places that I visit I have the opportunity to eventually meet the people IRL. With CLSB I ended up making some friends that I will keep for the rest of my life, same with the Michigan gaming community. However, I have also had encounters with people that wear a mask online and then IRL they are either the complete opposite or a toned down version of who they are online. I cannot understand why.

I know we all have some level of self image that is different than what others might percieve of us. Some of the internet personas though are so extreme that they are unpleasant to the point that I would not want to associate with that person at all. Racism has been a big issue for me. Some people feel that on the internet they can state their beliefs in a very open way, calling people names, singling out a whole race with a single statement… but then IRL those people don’t back up those words, they cannot look at you in the eye and say those same things.

Other people have been simply very confrontational, very in your face. I thought a couple of them would be people that would actually come up to me and try to hurt me physically, but then you meet them IRL and it is laughable how just being behind a keyboard made them grow virtual muscles that deflate rapidly as you stare at them face to face. The most annoying instance to me is when I have had internet encounters with people that I have grown to really dislike, but then people that have met the person IRL say, that guy is one of the nicest people you would ever meet. My question is, then why does he play a low life ingnorant bully wannabe in the internet?

I admit that everything that is inside of this blog is only a portion of who I really am, it is a little window to my world but not a complete view. Not just because it is written and it is at times hard to transmist tone over the net, but because you have to be around me to really experience how weird, geeky, cool and overall different I can be. However, everything that you see online from me is something that you can see in real life too. There is no mask that I wear or persona that I portray, what you read is what you will hear come out of my mouth too… only it will have a Colombian accent.

Something for nothing

I am curious to find out if this happens in all professions or if it is only limited to IT(Information Technology, Computer Work). Do people tell their friends that are doctors if they can do that MRI on the weekend when the office is closed, or maybe their Orthodontist friend if he can get you a free crown? Well it happens to me quite a bit, people want something for nothing. Read more…

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